Sukkos is just around the corner and we have much preparation ahead.
The sukkah needs to be built and decorated, food needs to be prepared and lulavim and esrogim purchased. With so much on our minds it is easy to forget the physical demands placed on our bodies, particularly in regards to the sukkah.
The physical demands of building a sukkah usually include lifting, carrying, reaching overhead and looking up for prolonged periods (like when hanging decorations or putting up the s’chach).
Hopefully, this article will help you avoid some common mistakes to prevent injury and ensure your new year begins with safety and good health!
Remove the sukkah from storage and bring it to the area where it will be constructed. This is a simple step from an instruction standpoint but a common area of difficulty from a practical perspective.
Many of us store the sukkah in the garage. Then, over the course of the year we put things in front of it. Make sure to clear the space FIRST, so you can easily get the pieces out without requiring any maneuvering around obstacles.
When dealing with panels, wood or fiberglass, be careful not to round your back when you lift them up. This places strain on your back and increases your risk of injury.
If they are large or heavy…get someone to help you.
Unless you are in the construction business you probably don’t spend much time during the year doing activities similar to building a sukkah. Therefore, your body is not ready for a prolonged session of lifting, reaching, holding, tightening etc.
In order to avoid injury, take breaks in the middle. Your sukkah will be completed whether it takes 2 hours or 3 hours. Taking the extra time up front can save you a lot of headache (or backache!) in the grand scheme of things.
Putting up the s’chach. The things to be worried about here are a combination of the previously mentioned concerns.
The s’chach is often very heavy. It also needs to be lifted to the top of the sukkah and then rolled out (or placed on top one piece at a time). All the lifting can put your back in an awkward position and leave you more prone to injury.
When possible, have someone help lift the s’chach so the weight is manageable. You may also want to stand on a sturdy step stool to make reaching the top easier.
You are ready to hang decorations; especially the beautiful pictures your kids made in yeshiva (don’t forget to cover them!) This usually requires frequent reaching to the higher areas of the sukkah. In order to prevent a shoulder or neck injury from this repeated motion,
- Use a ladder or step stool to help you reach where you need to.(Of course, take precautions whenever climbing on a ladder.) The less overhead reaching you do…the better.
- If you are reaching overhead…try to keep your arm in the "thumbs up" position. This will help you avoid shoulder injury.
- If you are hanging multiple decorations high up in the sukkah take frequent breaks. During these breaks move your head around (turning to each side, looking down, tilting your head to the side) to minimize the effect of repeatedly looking up while hanging the decorations.
These are some of the common ways people injure themselves at this time of year. However, it is by no means a comprehensive list.
Think about what you are doing and stop doing anything that doesn’t seem like a good idea. If something hurts while you are doing it…STOP immediately.
Wishing you a happy and safe Sukkos!